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Tim Cook calls 2015 the 'year of Apple Pay' as service takes over contactless payments market

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Apple Pay now accounts for two out of every three dollars processed through contactless payment systems, a huge achievement for Apple's NFC-based solution that debuted less than three months ago.

During Apple's quarterly conference call for the first quarter of 2015, company CEO Tim Cook announced huge uptake for Apple Pay since its activation in October, saying he expects even more growth as the year progresses.

"We are more confident than ever that 2015 will be the year of Apple Pay," Cook said.

The statistics up to this point are impressive. Initially, 500 banks and financial institutions pledged support for the service, but that number has swelled to around 750, with even more requesting to partner up. Discussing current retail partners, Cook said Apple Pay now represents 80 percent of contactless transactions at Panera Bread, while upscale grocer Whole Foods saw a 400 percent increase in contactless payments since the service launched.

Cook expressed surprise at seeing the rapid rate of Apple Pay adoption at retailers willing to update their point-of-sale terminals during the busy holiday season, a time when companies usually put such efforts on hold.

It was reported earlier today Apple Pay launched at 200,000 self-service stations across the U.S., including vending machines, commercial laundry machines, parking meters and more.

A research report in November estimated Apple Pay accounted for one percent of all digital payments, surpassing competing solutions from industry stalwarts like PayPal that have yet to get off the ground.

Apple's entry into mobile payments is a shot in the arm for the industry and has stoked accelerated competition from rival systems, including the Walmart and BestBuy-backed MCX. Earlier this month, a report claimed Google was looking to expand its Google Wallet service through the purchase of Softcard, a joint venture in contactless payments backed by Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile.